Archives

Uncategorized

Kevin Rogers of Action NC reminds us this morning that, in spite of the latest irresponsible Tea Party tantrum, today is a day to celebrate:

Uninsured North Carolinians Celebrate Obamacare’s Opening Day
State health insurance marketplaces start enrollment push despite government shutdown

 (Raleigh, NC) –  For the more than 1.5 million uninsured North Carolinians, today is a day to celebrate the long-awaited opening day of Healtcare.gov, the state marketplace for people to enroll in coverage under the Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare. Starting today, people who are uninsured or expect to be uninsured in 2014 can sign up for affordable, comprehensive health benefits. When these plans take effect on Jan. 1, 2014, it will fulfill a key promise of the law by outlawing decades of health insurance discrimination against millions of people with pre-existing conditions who were denied coverage or price-gouged if they could get it.

Of the nearly 1 in 5 North Carolinians who are currently uninsured, Read More

Uncategorized

From Guest Blogger Cathy Hope of the Georgetown Center for Children and Families.  (See her original post here.)

Whenever I read stories about the sticker shock that may hit some consumers when the Affordable Care Act takes effect, it reminds me that buying insurance can be more mystifying than buying a new car.  There have been so many jalopies being sold in “mint condition” in the wild west of the insurance market for so long that it’s going to take some time for consumers to realize how much better the insurance products will be once the ACA consumer protections take full effect.

They will finally be getting what they are paying for – coverage that will cover essential health needs and won’t disappear when they need it most.  Don’t forget, there will be other important features included in next year’s models (in other words improvements brought about by the ACA market reforms such as the elimination of pre-existing condition discrimination and gender-based rating.)

These sticker price narratives also often ignore the fact that many people won’t be paying the full sticker price because they will be eligible for federal tax credits and/or cost-sharing protections offered by the ACA to offset the cost of insurance.   A new report from the Kaiser Family Foundation found that 48% of people now buying their own insurance would be eligible for a tax credit that would offset their premium. Among the approximately half of current enrollees who will be eligible for tax credits, the average subsidy would be $5,548 per family, which would reduce their premium for the second-lowest-cost silver premium by an average of 66%.

So the next time you hear the refrain that insurance coverage will cost more under the ACA, ask yourself more expensive than what and are the premium tax credits and cost-sharing protections being taken into account?

Uncategorized

We wrote a brief, which you can read here, about a Senate budget provision that will throw thousands of pregnant women off of Medicaid. The bill moves Medicaid eligibility for pregnant women from 185 percent of federal poverty level (about $21,000 per year for a single person) to 133 percent of federal poverty level (or about $15,000 per year for a single person).

The Senate also creates a small voucher program to help some of these women purchase private insurance, but the way the provision is written means that very few women, if any, will qualify for full coverage during their entire pregnancy.

Besides violating good sense, it also turns out that this provision violates federal regulation.

The federal rule regarding Medicaid eligibility says that states can’t cut the minimum income for pregnant women to qualify below what the state had authorized by July 1, 1989. This date was chosen because many states expanded Medicaid eligibility for pregnant women in 1988 and 1989.

In its 1989 budget (which became effective on July 1, 1989) the North Carolina legislature authorized Medicaid eligibility for pregnant women to increase to 150 percent of the federal poverty level. Although the increase to 150 percent of federal poverty level did not take effect until 1990, the higher rate was authorized by July 1, 1989.

That means that the North Carolina legislature, even if it is determined to kick pregnant women out of Medicaid, can’t set eligibility below 150 percent of the federal poverty level. This is just one more reason to delay or cancel this ill conceived plan until we understand its impact.

Uncategorized

Today in the News and Observer I detail yet another one of these crazy changes hidden deep in the GOP budget recently passed by the NC Senate. This one is a doozy—it kicks off pregnant women who currently get Medicaid and tells them to go buy private insurance. A half-hearted attempt at political cover is provided by saying that somehow (it’s unworkable) the state will pay part of the private premium if these lower income women qualify. However, under the Affordable Care Act, Medicaid was supposed to be expanded, not cut, an expansion already rejected by the NC Senate. The latest cynical attempt to attack “Obamacare” just doesn’t work and it ignores the great bipartisan legacy of our state’s efforts to attack our awful infant mortality rate problem:

Back in 1989, shortly after news that North Carolina had the highest infant mortality rate of any state in the nation, Republican Gov. Jim Martin created a task force to seek solutions to this national embarrassment after he already had been pushing for changes to address the problem. Solutions championed by Martin included expanding Medicaid to many more pregnant women in 1987.

Uncategorized

Wayne GoodwinAnother public servant  who actually knows what he is talking about has weighed in on the absurdity of the legislation advanced by Governor McCrory and conservative lawmakers to try to block the important reforms and expanded coverage made possible by the Affordable Care Act. North Carolina Insurance Commissioner Wayne Goodwin issued the following statement after yesterday’s action by the House Health and Human Services Committee:

“I believe that North Carolinians know what’s best for North Carolina. State-based regulation best protects our consumers and promotes a healthy insurance marketplace. At the earlier direction of the General Assembly, the Department of Insurance and the Department of Health and Human Services have laid the necessary groundwork to implement a state-based health insurance exchange and other provisions of the federal health care law. I am disappointed that state leaders now want to cede more control of our health insurance market to the federal government. Read More